Dealing With Morning-After Shame
If you’ve ever woken up and felt kind of ~meh~ after a night of sex, you’re not alone. “It’s common for people to experience shame after sex,” explains sex and relationship counselor Dr. Martha Tara Lee. Especially given the fact our culture is very shame-y about intimacy, sexual health, bodily autonomy, and the like.
But honestly, in spite of all this, it’s important to remind yourself that “consensual sexual experiences are a normal part of adult life,” Lee says. So practice self-compassion, no matter how you’re having sex, and remember that sex is *normal* and good for you.
“Getting over shame around sex involves self-reflection, education, and challenging negative beliefs,” about intimacy, Lee explains. For this reason, it can be helpful to explore your own values, beliefs, and experiences around sex, and maybe even seek sexual health-specific therapy for guidance.
So—perhaps it’s time to give your ideas around sex a bit of a once-over?
First, ask yourself if you actually enjoyed the sexual experience, says psychotherapist Dr. Avigail Lev, founder of Bay Area CBT Center. For example: Did you reach an orgasm? Did you advocate for your own needs? Did you feel any pressure from your partner?
If, overall, you felt the sexual experience went well, maybe it’s time to look at where your shame is really coming from—especially if you consistently feel shame after sex. What are the negative thoughts and feelings that arise for you during and after? Do you have a history of being shamed for your sexuality, or did you grow up in a home where sexuality in general was shamed?
Perhaps you experience negative thoughts about your body, or don’t believe that you really deserve sexual pleasure. No matter your answers to these questions, the path forward will be different for everyone.
“For those who are single, it can be helpful to focus on self-care and engage in activities that bring joy and fulfillment,” Lee says. “For those in a relationship, open communication with your partner about any feelings of shame can be beneficial in addressing and resolving them together,” she explains. And if you feel like it might help, perhaps therapy is the way to go, too.
No matter your path forward, trust that moving past the morning after shame takes time! Don’t rush yourself, and do what you feel is best for you.
And remember: the Beia community is here for you!